The Swiss embassy in New Delhi has temporarily suspended Schengen visa applications for Indian tour groups until October due to a significant backlog of pending applications. The decision has impacted the travel plans of many Indian tourists and led to dissatisfaction among tour operators, as group tours outside the country are their most profitable ventures. The embassy has requested tour operators to reschedule group trips to allow ample time for visa processing, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com.
Tour operators have expressed their concerns about the decision, as group tours are crucial for their business, and they are actively seeking solutions to enable interested travelers to visit the Schengen area without undue delays.
The visa processing challenges are not limited to Indian tourists. Staff shortages are also affecting travelers from China who wish to visit Switzerland in groups. The pandemic-related halt in visa processing centers in China has led to a backlog of applications, and Swiss embassies are facing difficulties in processing the high number of applications in a timely manner. Simon Bosshart, the Head of Markets East at Switzerland Tourism, acknowledged the problem and cited a lack of staff in Swiss embassy as a contributing factor.
The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Switzerland stated that the country is currently processing 94% of the visa applications available in 2019. However, the capacity for visa processing in many other Schengen countries has not yet been fully restored to pre-pandemic levels.
Visa delays in Switzerland have been linked to “visa shopping,” where applicants apply to multiple countries to choose the one with the most favorable processing times.
To obtain a Schengen visa for Switzerland, foreigners must submit various documents, including a completed application form, valid passport, travel insurance, proof of accommodation, detailed itinerary, proof of financial means, evidence of employment or enrollment, and the visa fee payment receipt. The suspension of visa applications for Indian tour groups underscores the need for adequate visa processing capacities to accommodate the increasing demand for travel to the Schengen area.